Thursday, February 2

Jair Bolsonaro supporters storm Brazil’s presidential palace and supreme court | Brazil

Hundreds of hardcore supporters of Brazil’s former president, Jair Bolsonaro, have stormed the country’s congress, presidential palace and supreme court in a stunning security breach that was immediately compared to the 6 January invasion of the US Capitol by followers of Donald Trump in 2021.

“What we are witnessing is a terrorist attack,” the news anchor Erick Bang announced on the GloboNews television network as word of the upheaval spread. “The three buildings have been invaded by coup-mongering terrorists.”

Shocking video footage showed the pro-Bolsonaro militants sprinting up the ramp into the Palácio do Planalto, the presidential offices, roaming the building’s corridors and vandalising the nearby supreme court, whose windows had been smashed.

The veteran leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, was sworn in as Brazil’s new president last Sunday in celebrations attended by hundreds of thousands of Brazilians.

But thousands of pro-Bolsonaro extremists have refused to accept Lula’s narrow victory in October’s election, spending recent weeks camping outside army bases across the country and calling for a military coup.

On Sunday, one pro-Bolsonaro mob marched from the army headquarters in Brasília towards the heart of Brazilian politics, the Three Powers Plaza, which houses the supreme court, the presidential palace and congress.

The militants – many wearing the yellow and green Brazil flag that became a symbol of Bolsonaro’s far-right movement – broke through police lines and surged on to the ramp leading into the congress building.

“Brasília has its Capitol day,” tweeted the political commentator Rodrigo Rangel.

Leftist politicians voiced shock and anger as the horde advanced. “The National Congress is being attacked by TERRORISTS!” tweeted Randolfe Rodrigues, a senator.

Police confront protesters invading the National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil. Photograph: Andre Borges/EPA

Soon after another prominent Lula ally, André Janones, shared footage that showed scores of radicals inside the grounds of the Palácio do Planalto, the presidential offices where last week’s inauguration ceremony was held.

“Terrorists have invaded the Planalto,” Janones tweeted.

Observers have spent months warning that Bolsonaro hardliners might stage a South American version of the US’s Capitol invasion in the hope of overturning Lula’s win.

“Bolsonaro and his team have looked very closely at what happened on January 6 trying to understand why it was that a sitting president failed in his effort to overturn election results,” the former US ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon, told the Guardian before last year’s election.

Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain whose main international ally was Donald Trump, flew out of Brazil on the eve of Lula’s inauguration and is currently in Florida.

Protestors wearing Brazil flags vandalising area outside National Congress
Supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro demonstrate outside Brazil’s National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil. Photograph: Adriano Machado/Reuters

Bolsonaro fell almost completely silent after Lula’s victory, with many interpreting his silence as a tacit approval of the anti-democratic protesters who have been calling on Brazil’s military to intervene.


The weeks leading up to Lula’s 1 January inauguration saw two clear signals of the violence that was to come.

On 13 December, radicals tried to storm the federal police headquarters in Brasília, torching buses and cars as they moved through the city. Just before Christmas another extremist Bolsonaro supporter was arrested and allegedly confessed to a plot to bomb Brasília’s airport in an attempt to spark turmoil that might justify a military coup.





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